Cancer is the second leading cause of mortality in the United States, responsible for a quarter of all deaths and claiming over 500,000 lives every year. Existing cancer vaccines target specific antigens on tumor cells. Since cancer cells are highly prone to mutation, these antigens may not always be present. This limits the effectiveness of existing vaccines. Approaching cancer vaccination from a different angle, we developed an immunogenic tumor-associated stromal cell antigen (TASA) peptide vaccine that targets cells in the connective tissue around the tumor, destroying its support system. By going after markers on the stromal cells rather than the cancer cells themselves, our vaccine could prove useful in fighting a wide array of cancers.

Technology Description

Following vaccination with immunogenic TASA peptides, the host develops an immune response producing T-lymphocytes that recognize TASA antigens neuropilin 1 (NRP1), protein delta homolog 1 (DLK1), and tumor endothelial marker 1 (TEM1). Attacking cells that express these markers decreases tumor vascularization and inhibits cancer progression in the host. In mice, therapeutic vaccines eliciting immune responses against TASA peptides effectively suppressed the growth of melanoma and colon cancers; in most cases this promoted disease regression.


  • Broadly effective against many different types of cancer
  • Targets stable, less variable stromal cells within and surrounding tumors


  • Decrease growth and promote regression of solid vascularized forms of cancer

Stage in Development

in vivo data

IP Status

US patent 9,345,770 issued


Walter Storkus, PhD

Relevant Publications

  • Fabian KL, & Storkus WJ (2017). Immunotherapeutic Targeting of Tumor-Associated Blood Vessels. Advances in Experimental Medical Biology, 1036, 191-211.
  • Fabian KP, Chi-Sabins N, Taylor JL, Fecek R, Weinstein A, & Storkus WJ (2017). Therapeutic efficacy of combined vaccination against tumor pericyte-associated antigens DLK1 and DLK2 in mice. Oncoimmunology, 6(3):e1290035.
  • Sabins NC, Taylor JL, Fabian KP, Appleman LJ, Maranchie JK, Stolz DB, & Storkus WJ (2013). DLK1: a novel target for immunotherapeutic remodeling of the tumor blood vasculature. Molecular Therapy, 21(10), 1958-1968.
  • Zhao X, Bose A, Komita H, Taylor JL, Chi N, Lowe DB, & Storkus WJ (2012). Vaccines targeting tumor blood vessel antigens promote CD8+ T cell-dependent tumor eradication or dormancy in HLA-A2 transgenic mice. The Journal of Immunology, 188(4), 1782-1788.